Remembering ‘Chronicle’ historian and his wife and daughter

| September 30, 2021 | 0 Comments

AN ILLUSTRATION by Harry Muir Kurtzworth of Larchmont Boulevard developer Julius LaBonte.

Artist and historian Harry Muir Kurtzworth (1887-1979), whose sketches created for the Larchmont Chronicle are featured in Section One of this issue, is back in the news — the California Art Club Newsletter, to be exact.

“It’s very exciting that my grandfather is still very, very popular on Larchmont, and in the Chronicle,” Kurtzworth’s granddaughter, Hancock Park resident Carolyn LayPort, told us.

Her grandfather joined the Larchmont Chronicle staff in the 1960s, and he wrote articles accompanied by drawings about the life of Larchmont’s prominent residents, such as Larchmont Boulevard pioneering developer Julius LaBonte (shown here and also on page 1-18 of this issue). His drawings of Larchmont Landmarks are on page 1-22.

“Mr. Kurtzworth came into the office the second or third year we started [the paper], and he offered to do a column on historical homes and buildings in the neighborhood. I was thrilled,” said Chronicle founder Jane Gilman last month.

SUBJECTS of the portrait “Mrs. Harry Muir Kurtzworth and Her Daughter Constance,” by Theodore Nicolai Lukits, were a mystery until now.
Courtesy of California Art Club, est. 1909; Newsletter, Spring 2021

A mystery

More recently, the local historian has been linked to an 80-year-old mystery: the identity of the two subjects in a 1930s painting, “Mrs. Harry Muir Kurtzworth and Her Daughter Constance.”

The portrait by Theodore Nicolai Lukits is featured in the California Art Club’s Winter / Spring 2021 newsletter, in an article, “Tales of the Past: California Art Club’s Permanent Collection,” by Daniela Ionescu, the Art Club’s director of Library and Research Centre.

When the focus of the research shifted to Mrs. Kurtzworth’s husband, the mystery unraveled, and the identities of the mother and daughter portrayed on the canvas were revealed as the wife and daughter of historian Harry Kurtzworth.

They are both named Constance; the younger one, the daughter, is now 97, “and still with me,” says Carolyn.

Carolyn’s grandfather, Harry Kurtzworth, was a Detroit native and Ph.D graduate, an esteemed painter, designer, art critic, art historian and art educator of his day.

In 1930, he moved to California to serve as art director and curator of the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science and Art (in 1961, the museum split in two: the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Natural History Museum.

OLYMPIC DIPLOMA from the 1932 Summer Games, designed by Harry Muir Kurtzworth.

Los Angeles 1932 Olympics

In 1931, Kurtzworth was the appointed artist for the 1932 Olympics, and he designed the 10th Olympiad Diploma Award for the Los Angeles 1932 Summer Olympics, also known as the Games of the X Olympiad. Greek vases at the museum where he worked provided inspiration for his design — the goddess Columbia serves as a modern-day Athena, and Kurtzworth’s signature is on the bottom right side, below Athena’s temple.

From 1933 to 1937, Kurtzworth was director of the Los Angeles Art Association, and in 1937 he curated an exhibit for the Los Angeles Central Library, which featured works by Lukits and other artists, most of whom were California Art Club members at one time.

One year later, Lukits painted the portrait of Kurtzworth’s wife and daughter wearing dreamy rose and light green-colored dresses. The mother wore pearls and the daughter had a beguiling smile.

Lukits was sought-after for using jewel-like colors, and he was a favorite among the Hollywood set. He also mentored many Art Club members, including current CAC President Peter Adams.

ARTIST and Larchmont Chronicle columnist, Harry Muir Kurtzworth, at work on the Olympic Diploma.
Photograph courtesy of Kathleen Zlokovich,
Kurtzworth’s great-granddaughter.

It turns out that the painting of Kurtzworth’s wife and daughter was done in return for a favor owed to Harry Kurtzworth. But Lukits was volatile, and in the end, he willed the canvas to the Art Club instead of giving it to the Kurtzworth family, says LayPort.

Carolyn said the family didn’t know where the painting was until about a decade ago, and now a photograph of the portrait hangs in her home. She has her treasured family history, which includes her S. McCadden Place home, built in 1925 by her paternal grandmother.

“I just love my family history,” adds the Windsor Square-Hancock Park Historical Society member.

Harry Kurtzworth and his wife and daughter lived on S. Lucerne Boulevard behind The Ebell of Los Angeles. Her grandfather “was quite a gentleman and very talented,” LayPort recalls.

Her grandmother Constance joined the Ebell in 1939, and Carolyn’s mother, the younger Constance, taught ballroom dance lessons there when she was 18. They had cotillion then as they do today, said Carolyn.

Membership to the Pasadena-based California Art Club is open to both artists and non-artists. Visit

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